I bet I can guess what you’re thinking. This is a joke, right? Heh! I wish.

Truth is, I have a very profound phobia of sharks.

For may years I tried to keep this phobia completely hidden and did not want anyone to know.

Why? Because going to the aquarium does not bother me. Going to the beach and seeing the ocean does not bother me… It’s photos. 100% photo images of sharks instantly take me from Jekyll to Hyde in the blink of an eye.

No, I was never attacked by a shark…

But I did have a very bad experience in a shark exhibit while on a family vacation when I was only 6 years of age. I was separated from my family, and was standing in front of a screen where huge images of sharks, their open mouths, and teeth were being shown in slides…. And to say I panicked was an understatement. When I fled to find my family, I ended up in line for a submarine ride that had a syndicated shark attack scene… And that was the icing on the cake.

My parents assumed I was upset after being separated from them, when deep down I was traumatized,

When we returned to our hotel room, I was afraid to get into the swimming pool, or even the hotel bathtub.

Anywhere that had water would instantly upset me.

I had a cast on my left arm and my parents assumed I didn’t want to get my cast wet. But they never asked ME why I was upset. And for a 6 year old, when a parent tells YOU what and how you feel… You don’t argue with them in fear of being disrespectful… At least that was how I felt.

Upon returning home from vacation, my Mom opened up a new package of my favorite magazine subscription: ZOO BOOKS! Only this time, when she was going through each one and asking me if they were duplicates to any of the publications we already had in our collection, the moment the cover of the Shark book appeared,

I screamed and ran and hid behind our couch…

That was when my parents learned about my fear I was so hesitant to tell them about. When my older brother and sister found out about that fear… They consistently tormented me with this damn book cover of a sand tiger shark (If you don’t know what they look like, I have one word to describe them: “whatnightmaresaremadefrom”.

I am now a grown adult, and the phobia is still a part of my life.

I have tried many ways to overcome that fear by going to local aquariums, TRYING to look at images from a distance, and even watching SHARK WEEK on Discovery channel… Although the exposure can temporarily take the edge off, I have never been able to see images of water and sharks with out the overwhelming feeling of fear that consumes my entire body, mind and focus.

Again, you may think this is a joke, but phobias are no laughing matter. I don’t hate sharks, I do not wish ill will upon them… I just don’t particularly care to look at images of them. And yes, I have blocked people from social media for “poking the bear” and sending me shark images. I have even ended friendships with people whom have taunted my phobia in very disrespectful ways that I will not go into any further detail about.

So… Now you know.

My deepest darkest childhood fear and my one subject matter I will not tattoo. Ever. Not even for millions of dollars. And lets be honest, you don’t want me tattooing you, with a moving needle in my hand while showing me images of sharks… And yes I am laughing at my own visual of such an event, lol!

If it is a shark,

has the word shark in the title… it’s a shark. And I will not do any kind of tattoo design with a shark, shark species, subspecies or otherwise… Because I will NEVER allow the work “shark” to be in my search engine bar.

In closing, I LOVE doing sea life tattoos,

with mammals and fish, fresh and salt water. And I ask respectfully, please do not ask me to do a shark tattoo, do not send me an image of a shark tattoo, and yes, a Whaleshark internet search still shows: SHARKS.

So, short answer: No sharks.

Long answer: Nooooooooo Sharrrrrrrrrks.

Please, thank you and nope.

-Love Hay’